Thursday, November 8, 2012

The 13 principles: # 12: The prerequisites for the Jewish Messiah

As we explained last time, the Mashia will be a Jewish King, descendent of the house of King David. According to Maimonides (MT, Kings 11:4) "We may assume that an individual is the Messiah if he fulfills the following conditions. (1) He must be a King, from the house of David, (2) immersed in the Tora and its commandments like David his ancestor. He must also follow both, the written and the Oral Tora, lead all Jews back to the Tora, strengthening the observance of its laws and (3) fight God's battles."

"God's battles" are not meant here in a figurative sense like a salvation army. "HaShem battles" are the military wars and battles that the Jewish people wages against its enemies. The sort of battles that the IDF fights every single day. The Mashiatherefore will be a man of wisdom, a leader and role model in Tora, and also a military man who fights against Israel's enemies.

Where does Maimonides take these ideas from?

In MT, Kings, 11:3 he writes : "Do not think that the Mashia will have to perform signs and miracles. He will not necessarily change the course of nature or bring the dead back to life [= teyiat hametim might not happen at this particular stage. Y.B.], or anything else like that. We thus find that Rabbi Akiba, the greatest sage of the Mishna, was willing to accept Bar Koziba (Bar Kokhba, the leader of the Jewish revolt against the Roman Empire in 132 CE) as the Messiah until he was killed... it was only when he died that they realized ...that he was not the true Messiah"

It is through an analysis of the characteristics of Bar Kokhba that Maimonides describes the prerequisites of the Mashia: what rabbi Akiba saw in Bar Kokhba, we should expect to find in the potential Mashiaḥ.

(To be continued...).